Review – ‘Halloween’ has slasher flair, but lacks proper horror

Poster for 2018 slasher horror sequel Halloween

Genre: Horror
Certificate: 18
UK Release Date: 19th October 2018
Runtime: 106 minutes
Director: David Gordon Green
Writer: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Judy Greer, Will Patton, Haluk Bilginer, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle
Synopsis: Having waited for him to escape and track her down, a tooled-up Laurie Strode is prepared to take out Michael Myers once and for all.

 

 

After 10 previous movies, the Halloween franchise has finally settled on the most dangerous and horrifying villains in the entire world – true crime podcasters. At the beginning of David Gordon Green‘s new take on the iconic slasher franchise, it’s a pair of British reporters, with microphones in tow, who wave Michael Myers’s weathered William Shatner mask at him just a couple of days before he’s set to be moved to a different facility. When he escapes, they’re surprised. The audience isn’t.

Another person who isn’t particularly surprised is Laurie Strode, played by a returning Jamie Lee Curtis as an ageing survivalist who has never been able to get over her narrow escape from Michael’s clutches in 1978. Her constant drive towards quasi-military preparation has alienated her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and created distance from her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). When Michael returns to prowl again, bashing out people’s teeth and stomping on heads, she begins to look slightly less mad. Only slightly, mind.

This is a very different kind of Halloween movie, styled more around the nostalgic reboot feel of Star Wars: The Force Awakens than previous entries in its own franchise. With original creator John Carpenter involved behind the scenes, and contributing the score with his son Cody, it is a ‘shut up and play the hits’ take on the Halloween franchise. There’s little that’s surprising or scary going on, but fans will find plenty to enjoy.

Green, in a break from his already unusual cocktail of stoner comedies and weighty dramas, has conjured a stylish and reverent homage to Carpenter’s epochal horror film. He amps up the gore and nastiness to create some memorable and wince-inducing stalk and slash sequences, but also plays with shots from the original movie in order to plant the idea of Michael and Laurie as mirror images of each other. Where once Michael was the only monster, Laurie has herself become a single-minded ogre in the wake of her near-death experience, capable of anything.

That transformation is played with tremendous relish by Curtis, who attacks the role with every inch of enthusiasm and intensity that anyone could possibly want. She’s the true star here, in a rare and incredibly welcome cinematic choice that positions a woman in her fifties as an undeniably badass hero. Unfortunately, Green’s central message that trauma reverberates through future generations is diluted and ultimately minimised by the strange decision to focus on three generations of Strodes, leaving Judy Greer’s Karen with very little to do as Michael stalks the teenage Allyson and her nubile young friends. There’s plenty to explore, but the movie sabotages itself.

Fans of slashers – and especially of Michael Myers’s exploits – will however find plenty to enjoy in Halloween, which is slick and fun even if it never comes close to the chills of Carpenter’s original movie. There are comedy touches that don’t quite land in the way that they seem to be intended and they bump up awkwardly against the violent excesses of the horror sequences. However, there’s a real thrill to seeing Halloween in its Carpenter-approved incarnation back on the big screen, with that absolutely legendary score still as capable ever of sending a chill down the spine.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with simply playing to the fans, and that’s something the latest take on Halloween manages with style and flair. Jamie Lee Curtis’s whirlwind of a performance is its greatest benefit, while its message of trauma’s staying power is diluted into non-existence by the over-stuffed roster of characters. There’s only one scuffle we want to see and, when we get there, Strode vs. Myers definitely delivers.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.